Labour tries to block new BAE inquiry
Request from US investigators is ignored by home secretary
David Leigh and Rob Evans
Friday September 21, 2007
British ministers are refusing to cooperate with the US criminal investigation into allegations of corruption against BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, the Guardian can disclose.
More than two months after an official request for mutual legal assistance (MLA) was received from Washington, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, has not yet allowed it to be acted upon. The US investigators believe the British are being obstructive.
But legal sources said yesterday that the inquiry team had not been deterred by the UK government’s hostile attitude. Some have already begun taking statements from key British witnesses.
The formal request for assistance came from the US department of justice earlier in the summer, but Ms Smith has refused to pass it on to the Serious Fraud Office for processing in the normal way.